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'GENDER AT WORK - Valuing mind over bodies' by Anuradha Rajamurthy

'Activity involving mental and physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result” So goes the meaning of work. Gender at work sounds little idiosyncratic!


'Humans at work' sounds better. The veracity in a medley of work depends upon the skills of hands, acumen of mind, and insights of a person. This person can be a man, woman and a transgender too. The gender or sex knows only one job!


Few decades ago woman were taboo on some working platforms. Today they are “Sarvantharyami!” A woman is omnipotent and omniscient! She is a teacher, engineer, doctor, scientist, politician, technician, astronaut, pilot, driver, conductor, post woman, cabbie, judge, and lawyer – the list is endless and she's now present in petrol bunks too.


Next is her performance quotient. Very non-glamorous ladies like Nirmala Sitaraman accomplish the toughest role in politics with aplomb. The Lilliput lady Sushma Swaraj stood tall among the world's leaders in bringing peace and stranded expats back home. Power house actresses Smriti Irani showed that it isn’t just her speeches that are powerful but dedication in politics equally potent too.


Glamorous beauties like Aishwarya, Priyanka etc. have turned the tables and have become heroes. A brilliant engineer Sudha Murthy lives a simple life and serves a magnificent charity. Sporting champs PV Sindhu, Mary Kom held India’s flag high on international sporting dias with sheer sweat & blood sans influence. Breaking the social stigma and the society shackles, transgenders like Prithika, Joyita Mondal Satyasri Sharmila became police officer, judge and lawyer respectively proved that transgenders aren’t just the hand clapping bimatrix at traffic signals. In a male dominated music era, MS Subbalakshmi chanted bhakti relentlessly and became the gem of Carnatic music. The melody queen Latha crooned “meri awaaz hi meri pehechaan hai”.


But coming to valuing mind over bodies we have an unsound impairment! A recent study of comparison of men and women at work revealed women’s work was 10% more efficient than men’s, but their pay wasn’t. All Hollywood and Bollywood heroes get a fatter cheque than heroines; Men cricket team carries moolah that is much more than women team. Even the world famous Tennis tournaments have a huge pay gap.


From times immortal, we have woman standing shoulder to shoulder with men like Ardha Naareeshwara where the Nari accomplishes half the body with Nara, depicting that world needs gender balance. One cannot be complete without the other.


Being a woman who can raise the children is such a fundamental need for human kind to progress, yet the society structures do not felicitate or work towards a healthy balance.


Women empowerment, feminist movement, me too, Pinjra tod, Gulabi gang, Nirbhaya movement, stop acid sale, to name a few of all movements which focuses on the atrocities, heinous and monstrous behavior of men, sizzled, sputtered, seared and broiled only to fizzle out like the bubbles of cola. You cannot escape from the judgment that it is easier to control women and curb their freedom than addressing the predatory act of men.


When a woman starts working chances are that she has to face flak from father-in-law, mocking from mother-in-law, hostility from husband, resentment from relatives, envy from enemies, frustration from friends, competition from colleagues, browbeat from boss, sexual harassment from sexist and last but never the least she needs mercy of maid servant! To climb the corporate ladder she needs to break the glass ceiling! Woman generally are more compassionate, non assertive, gullible than the male counterparts and this can be a huge setback at work. 90% working women stay home and begin their second innings. Cooking, home work for kids, preparations for the following day etc. while a man relaxes reading a news paper or watching TV.


How many are free from male chauvinism? Are they encouraged at home whole heartedly? Are they not guilty of leaving their kids at daycare? To prove her efficiency in par with a male counterpart, a woman has to double her effort as compared to a man. A free and focused mind is necessary to reach the pinnacle and a woman has to compromise lot of her womanly pleasures to achieve.


24x7 working with absolutely no pay, no holidays, no perks exists everywhere in the form of mothers but only to be projected on a movie screen or immortalized in a short snippet. Gender equality will only be reached if women are empowered.

Tapering the issue further all women employees must be trained before contracting. Senior women employees must guide juniors regarding the work pattern from their experiences. Work from home options should be genderless which promotes even men to stay at home and experience the household . Mentoring activities if provided will boost the not-so-confident employees. All women corporate works better as a woman can easily share her vows & predicaments. Managers should give talks on how to be more productive and valuable to the company than being at work for longer durations. Companies should care for women’s pregnancy and child care irrespective of potential and non potential candidates. In spite of empowerment there are still unknown challenges to face and overcome, and to push boundaries and face head on with skill and knowledge.


From Africa to Japan, Singapore to Russia all women experience the same trend with different level of appraisals or notches. But protest goes in vain because a storm in a cup will not be a ripple effect. If every woman cares for other woman in her life, outcome would be stupendous. Sadly, many times a woman is an enemy for woman. Women need to define gender roles such that she should stand equal to man in all aspects without any ambiguity or perplexity. Mutual symbiosis at work is the need of the day.


LIKE VIVEKANANDA SAID “ARISE! OH ARDHANAARI! AWAKE! AND STOP NOT TILL THE GOAL IS REACHED!”

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